Convocation Center Updates
Earlier this year, we published preliminary renderings and details of Georgia State’s proposed Convocation Center which would replace the aged and outmoded Sports Arena as the home of the Panthers’ Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams, among other university functions such as graduation and academic programming. Various sources have broken new information on the project in recent days, including Ben Moore of Panthertalk.com and the Georgia State Signal. Georgia State University released the following official renderings this morning in a press release:
Compare these to the unofficial renderings in our aforementioned article:
The official renderings primarily showcase the exterior of the building on the site of a former Georgia Department of Driver Services location, although a keen eye will notice a glimpse of interior design elements. The third image showcases the north face of the building, bordered by Pollard Boulevard. Through the large glass feature it’s possible to see what appears to be a U-shaped multi-level seating bowl open to the north. This wall of glass will offer attendees of events at the Convocation Center a view of the downtown Atlanta skyline during events, the university confirmed in its release.
The university did not include an official seating capacity in the release, but president Mark Becker referred to the project as having an 8,000-seat design capacity in his State of the University Address earlier this year. Several news outlets claim that the scope of the project has been scaled back from its original 200,000 square feet to around 120,000, and that the seating capacity has also been reduced.
In the unofficial renderings, a large covered plaza near the corner of Fulton Street and Capitol Avenue appears that is not present in the official university-provided renderings – giving credence to those claims of the project’s reduction in scope. The southeast elevation (first and second images in this article) portrays large solid vertical walls of steel and glass with what appears to be the upper seating bowl backing right up to them, leaving no room for a covered plaza like the one shown in the unofficial renderings.
The fate of the Sports Arena remains unknown. Although antiquated, lacking amenities and unsuitable for most functions of a university the size of Georgia State, it is presently adequately-sized for the basketball games and volleyball matches that call it home. The practice gym next door gets regular use from many sports teams and spirit squads, and locker rooms inside the arena proper received a renovation just a few seasons ago. Athletic department offices relocated to Georgia State Stadium upon completion of its renovation and conversion, leaving only basketball offices and training areas as remaining tenants alongside some academic programming usage.
Large commencement ceremonies have taken place at Georgia Tech’s 8,600-seat McCamish Pavilion and the Georgia World Congress Center since the Georgia Dome’s closure in early 2017. The completed Convocation Center, even at a projected 7,500-8,000 seats, should be adequate for Georgia State’s commencement, convocation and university programming needs. It’s too early to discuss outside use of the facility this far out in front of completion, but Atlanta’s medium-sized concert and event venue market could certainly use some additional space. Outside of McCamish Pavilion, the only other actively-used arena near the city similar in size to the Convocation Center project is Morehouse College’s 6,000-seat Forbes Arena.
The projected opening date of the $85 million facility is 2022, per the release.